Witches Never DiePrint
Burial practices around the world, from mummies to dancing skulls, and the history of magic’s bad girls
By Stephanie Bastek
October 27, 2017
Our Halloween special covers two subjects perfect for your next macabre dinner party: how the witch gained her powers, and the myriad alternatives to a casket. Caitlin Doughty, the Internet’s favorite mortician, tells us about her world travels in search of the holy grail of corpse interaction—along with a few other stories that illuminate our changing relationship with the afterlife. And Ronald Hutton, medieval historian and witch expert, goes into the history of fear surrounding one of the oldest scapegoats in the world.
Go beyond the episode:
- Caitlin Doughty’s From Here to Eternity
- Ronald Hutton’s The Witch
- Ask a Mortician all about coffin birth, ghost marriage, and the iconic corpses of the world on Caitlin’s YouTube channel
- Read more about the Order of the Good Death, an organization of funeral professionals working to change attitudes about death
- Virtually visit the high-tech Ruriden Columbarium in Tokyo, Japan with head monk Yajima Taijun
- For the flip side of witchcraft, watch Ronald Hutton’s dramatic documentary about the good ones—A Very British Witchcraft, about the founder of modern Wicca
- And for some spooky Halloween viewing, watch The Witch, our host’s favorite movie about witches—featured on Vulture’s list of top 15 witch movies, if you’re dying for more
A selection of Landis Blair’s illustrations of scenes in South Sulawesi, Tokyo, and La Paz:
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Music featured from Master Toad (“Dreadful Mansion”), Dead End Canada (“Witch Hunt”), and 8bit Betty (“Spooky Loop”), courtesy of the Free Music Archive. Our theme music was composed by Nathan Prillaman.
Stephanie Bastek is the associate editor of the Scholar and the producer/host of the Smarty Pants podcast.